June 07, 2008

Audience Development

Back in 1990 at Lands' End, our circulation department was called "Customer Planning and Development".

Now we read (thanks DMNews) that Circulation Managers are becoming known as Audience Developers.

I had numerous meetings at the recent ACCM conference with individuals about the evolution of jobs from "circulation" to "audience development".

Audience Development takes many forms.
  • Renting or Exchanging names/addresses (with customer permission, right?) with competitors.
  • Renting or Exchanging e-mail address (with customer permission, of course) with competitors.
  • Developing audiences on Facebook, MySpace, Blogs, Forums, Twitter, etc. via audience participation, giving the audience something so that they have a relationship with you prior to having a need for your products/services.
Nine out of ten folks at ACCM offered blank stares when this topic was discussed. Lots of heads nodded with approval of the concept ... lots of head scratching over how to implement the concept.

Five or ten years from now, we'll be halfway through our transition from marketing to lists to developing audiences. Until then, this is a magical period where trial and error are the norm, a period where experimentation is highly encouraged.